We are only half way through the flu season and some Emergency Room Doctors tell me they've felt the impact. Dr. Stephen Jones at Northridge Hospital says they're seeing some 15 patients a day with flu symptoms. At Providence St. Joseph in Burbank they've had their share as well. They don't have a number of patients that have, but they've had quite a few says ER Dr. Philip Schwarzman. Two people, middle aged, died this past weekend at the hospital.
Health workers tell us all the time we should get flu shots, but you may find it interesting that we're finding who don't want to be forced to take them. Not at St. Jo's where Schwarzman told me "I would think most health care professionals and most doctors don't have an objection to getting a flu shot."
At Providence St. Joseph's in Burbank the policy is the same as the LA County Public Health Department's policy. Health workers need to have a flu shot once a year or where a mask when they are working.
Nurse Natalie Bebejian thinks it's a good policy. She told me "it protects us. We're exposed to it so it's always a good idea to get the shot."
An official with the Health Department tells me hospitals can set their own policies. They just can't be any less that an annual shot or wearing of masks.
At Cedar Sinai flu shots are mandatory for nurses and other workers in frequent contact with high risk patients. It's not one or the other. Those who decline may be reassigned to low risk patients or furloughed until flu season is over. We have heard from some at the hospital not happy about that policy, but they didn't want to go on camera for fear of their jobs being affected.
At Long Beach Memorial no visitors under the age of 13 and masks or flu shots are required for workers.
At Scripps Hospitals they're actually taking the temperature of visitors coming to see patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta some 200,000 people are hospitalized a year with the flu. Some 24,000 of those patients die.
At St. Joseph they tell people to get the shots and we didn't find any doctors or nurses in the ER who hadn't and for good reason! Dr. Philip Schwarzman says "working in this environment where you're seeing patients who might have the flu yourself so you want to protect yourself." Registered Nurse Bailey Surratt agrees. She told me that with a flu shot "we're less likely to get sick and we're less likely to expose our patients we're taking care of."
The CA Nurses Association tells us they "...strongly encourage voluntary vaccinations, but oppose forced vaccinations or the scarlet-letter type wearing of masks under threat of job loss or other discipline."
We are halfway through the flu season. Take care.